Mark Zuckerberg breaks silence over Facebook whistleblower’s claims, labels accusations ‘deeply illogical’

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a staunch defence of his company, arguing that the recent claims by a whistleblower and former employee of the social media company, which said the platform prioritised profits over safety, “don’t make any sense”.

Zuckerberg’s defence came in the wake of former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen’s testimony before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, over the documents she gave to the Wall Street Journal. Haugen testified about the dangers the social media platform poses, from harming children to fueling misinformation and inciting political violence.

Zuckerberg refuted the allegations levied by Haugen in a post on his public Facebook page. He said that the arguments about the company deliberately pushing such content for profit were “deeply illogical.”

The Facebook CEO also defended the company from Haugen’s criticism of its business model of selling advertisements based on engagement, even if the content users are engaging with is harmful. “We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content,” Zuckerberg wrote, adding that he did not know “any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed.”

He also touched upon the claim that the Meaningful Social Interactions change to the platform’s News Feed helped fuel more divisive content, arguing that the change had been made in 2018 to encourage more content sharing between family and friends, adding if the move was “something a company focused on profits over people would do?”

Notably, Zuckerberg did not mention Haugen by name or the fact that the subcommittee that she testified before has also called on him to voluntarily appear before the Congress.

The Facebook CEO also dismissed claims that his company ignored internal research about the platform’s apparent harm to some teenagers and fighting harmful content, saying that his organisation would not have established industry-leading standards for reporting and transparency, if this was the case.

However, Zuckerberg added that while his company was committed to doing the best work it can, the US Congress was the correct body to assess “tradeoffs between social equities”. He said that his company was committed both to doing more research themselves on the issues raised as well as making more research available to the public.

Facebook was rocked by Haugen’s testimony on 5 October, with the whistleblower saying the company could benefit from stricter government oversight to alleviate the risks it poses.